Construction under way on Grand Meadow EMS

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 1999

GRAND MEADOW – The new emergency services building under construction in Grand Meadow is a matter of life or death.

Thursday, September 30, 1999

GRAND MEADOW – The new emergency services building under construction in Grand Meadow is a matter of life or death.

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The seconds or minutes saved by emergency services personnel, who will have a state-of-the art, one-stop facility for fire, ambulance and police could mean the difference between life or death.

That’s what Mark Jacobson, Scott Shorter and Diane Benson believe. Jacobson is an emergency medical technician, Shorter is a driver for the First Responder Squad and a firefighter and Diane Benson is an EMT.

The trio joined Jim Richardson, Grand Meadow’s police chief for an on-site interview Wednesday afternoon and discussed the new EMS building.

The Grand Meadow Area Ambulance Service, including the First Responder Squad, Grand Meadow Volunteer Fire Department and Grand Meadow Police Department will all make the new EMS building their headquarters.

The Grand Meadow City Council set aside $250,000 for the new facility, which is being constructed on city-owned property. The rest of the money is coming from the seven townships and two communities (Dexter and Racine) served by the GMAAS and businesses, industries and individuals, as well as clubs and organizations and even the estates of those the volunteers served. A plaque honoring those who supported the project with financial and other contributions will be displayed when the new building is completed.

But, the project is also being aided by a remarkable amount of donated materials and services, including those of the EMTs, firefighters, First Responders and police.

The Lester-type building being constructed by Prehn Building Sales of Rochester measures 154-by-80 feet and will have 11,500 square feet of space.

The white, metal exterior will be accented by brick at the base.

It is located along Mower County No. 8, which gives the EMS personnel immediate and unimpeded access in any direction.

Benson has clocked the response time saved to the seconds.

"We simply outgrew the old location," Benson said. "On Sunday mornings, when there were services at the Lutheran church near the building, parking was a problem for those responding to an emergency. Now, that won’t be a problem."

"We will have off-street parking in a lot for the volunteers and, look," she said, pointing across County No. 8, "We’re right across the street and only 90 seconds from Meadow Manor Nursing Home and a-minute-and-a-half from the new school they’re planing to build along Highway 16. We will save time in responding to all sorts of emergencies."

Jacobson said the new building is part of the city’s 5-year plan and was designed an planned by a 5-member committee, including himself, Shorter and Benson, as well as Meghan Lamp, an EMT, and Doug Edge, a firefighter.

Shorter said the building will accommodate the fire department’s three pumpers, one combination rescue rig/pumper, a grass-fire rig and tanker, as well as two ambulances and the city’s police squad car.

"There will be a meeting room and a training room," he said. "We will have a central dispatch center for weather-watch emergencies. There will be a decontamination room to clean-up and a utility room. We’ll have a laundry room and a kitchen."

Richardson likes the fact that the police department will have a secure place to park the town’s squad car and for evidence storage and files.

The expanded space will allow both the ambulance crew and police department to host training sessions for other departments in southeast Minnesota; something they previously lacked the space to do.

Construction began in July and is slated to be completed in November. Much of the interior finishing and detail work will be done by volunteers.

The GMAAS headed by director Meghan Lamp boasts 30 certified EMTs, while fire chief Dean Knutson’s department has 25 volunteers; nine of whom double as First Responders. Two police officers service the community.

The old ambulance garage was constructed in 1978 and faced Occupational Health and Safety Association citations for possible health and safety violations

The current fire station is 50 years old.

The town’s police car was garaged either in a city building or outside the police chief’s house.

"It was time to do something like this," Jacobson said.

Both Jacobson and Benson of the GMAAS said the fact the EMS district includes heavily-traveled Interstate 90 and is so far-ranging into the eastern Mower County rural areas means volunteers face a wide variety of emergencies.

There is apparent camaraderie among the volunteers. "We all enjoying a good working relationship and we need that to do our jobs," Jacobson said.

"When you deal with human lives, you need trained people and the best equipment and we have that," said police chief Richardson. "But every year, there’s new technology and new equipment and you have to keep up. This new building will allow us to take the best care of that equipment."

Shorter said, the fire and ambulance service have each replaced vehicles in the last two years and the police department after a tragic accident took the life of a part-time officer, recently, and totaled out the town’s only squad car.

The building, clearly, is a popular project in the community, judging by the praise the trio of volunteers and police chief give the facility and its supporters.

Susie Kjeer even rates their praise. The local artist painted a large sign depicting the new building when finished. Now, citizens can compare the progress being made by carpenters with the artist’s image of what it will look like when complete.

"It’s amazing," said Benson, "the kind of support we all receive from this community and the area all around us."

"When we needed help with the rebar in the building’s floor, all we had to do was put out a message on the pagers and the people came," she said.

"People have brought in loads of fill, donated backhoes and done all sorts of things to make this project go," said Shorter.

"It’s been a community effort. A lot of people want this building to be built," said Jacobson.